Now that the draft of Sylvie‘s sequel is finished, I am working on a 4th book – this time a biography. I’ve got a few chapters roughed out, but I’d like to share the introduction. Let me know what you think!
Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler (working title)
Stepping aboard Mark’s boat, a Polaris 43 double ender christened Lois Mae after his mother, the first thing you might notice is his smile — bright and welcoming for friends and strangers alike. If you walk down the pier at Nawiliwili Harbor, regardless of the time of day, you’re likely to see a small crowd gathered on Lois Mae; no formal occasion is necessary — at some point everyone is drawn to the boat to see if Mark is home, just to say hello, regardless of the reason they are at the harbor in the first place. Stopping by to say hello leads to a cocktail with music playing in the background, and depending upon the weather, that hello may cause you to spend the day sailing around the east side of Kauai enjoying the sunshine and tradewinds, or simply sitting onboard talking story until well after the colors of the sunset have faded to a starry black. Mark may not have much in terms of worldly possessions, but he has enough Aloha to supply the world.
Mark grew up in Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas, California, just north of San Diego. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Cardiff was a classic California surf town, a tight-knit community of families and local businesses. Residents enjoyed the ocean during their time off work, and the local surf spots spawned a few professionals as well as a multitude of excellent surfers who simply enjoyed the sport daily. Eventually the small town became a tourist destination, not only for the waves but for the friendly atmosphere and beautiful scenery of the Pacific Ocean with a beach walk and tide pools to explore.
Mark’s heritage is Spanish and Scandinavian; his grandparents hail from the Canary Islands and Norway, eventually meeting in Florida, then moving to Los Angeles. Mark was born in Los Angeles in 1951, moving to Cardiff by the Sea at the age of 7 with his parents, Ralph and Lois Mae, and siblings Greg, Randee, Vickie, and Jan.
Mark credits his family as the best a boy could have wanted growing up; he and his siblings were close, while his parents taught him about hard work and values. They supported each other through every life obstacle, and still do to this day.
The family didn’t have much money during Mark’s childhood. Lois Mae was a stay-at-home mom, and Ralph worked for the California Highway Patrol as a motorcycle policeman, spending his off hours diving for fish, lobster and abalone. Providing for five children on a policeman’s salary was not easy, and money for school lunches was lacking. Instead of going hungry, Mark and his siblings normally had lobster tails or abalone sandwiches, products of his father’s diving. Nearly every day Mark was offered a bologna or peanut butter sandwich in exchange for his ocean-caught delicacies, and instead of being ashamed at his family’s lack of money he was the envy of his schoolmates.
At San Dieguito High School, Mark found a love for reading, even though he had no love for school itself. He felt his time was better spent surfing or diving, while learning on his own. Between the ages of 14-18, he spent the majority of his time as a competitive, sponsored surfer, and throughout his life surfing has remained his greatest passion — one that has persisted to this day, regardless of the health obstacles due to aging. Toward the end of high school, Mark was entering the “Junior Pirate” phase of his life, causing him to drop out in 11th grade. He took classes at a junior college a few years later, oceanography and history among others, but by that time his money-making pursuits were starting to pay off and he became a full-time student of life.